HR 20 October 2016

The pros and cons of hiring new staff for the holiday season

shopping
Retailers are expected to invest heavily in recruitment to handle the holiday rush

Head at price comparison site Love Energy Savings, Phil Foster, tells Britain’s small retailers how they can streamline their recruitment process for the upcoming busy shopping period.

The festive rush is fast approaching, and for many industries that means a serious investment in hiring new staff for the holiday season.

For some businesses this is unavoidable, especially ecommerce and high street retailers that have to deal with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and the New Year sales.

Not every business can afford not to take on extra staff when an influx of customers come rushing through the doors, or start ordering their Christmas presents at the last minute. But there are certainly both good and bad things about taking on staff on a temporary basis.

Whether you get busy in the summer or the winter, if you’re toying with the idea of hiring more people, consider the following four pros and cons.

This year Amazon are predicting they will hire 20,000 seasonal workers in the UK alone. Given its convenience and speed, Amazon is the go-to source for buying products all year round. Add the run-up to Christmas into that, and demand at Amazon goes through the roof, especially with the growth of next-day and same-day delivery services.

It’s the same for retail businesses everywhere; and whether they hire 20 additional staff or 20,000, they all help to meet demand and ensure that a consistently good service is provided to all their customers.

“With a temporarily huge workload, many ecommerce businesses turn to temporary staff,” said Ross Dempsey, digital head at creative marketing agency Digital Impact. “While hiring extra staff comes with some drawbacks, like extra training, decreased profits, lessened accountability, the benefits are far greater.

“The most important benefit is that hiring temporary staff allows you to respond to increasing demand. With an increased workforce you can maintain the standard of your service. After all, there’s no point bringing in loads of new customers if you’re going to instantly alienate them with sloppy, late and inconsistent service.

Con – Personal interaction takes a hit

When things get busy, it’s only natural that socialising takes a back seat. But while we don’t want to encourage half an hour tea breaks in the kitchen, friendly interaction between colleagues is only going to improve the surrounding atmosphere. And when your staff are happy, your customers are happy.

If dozens of new faces suddenly show up at certain times of the year, only to disappear for good after a couple of months, this can understandably have a detrimental effect on morale. If your new yet temporary staff feel a bit like robots just brought in to fill the gaps, they’ll feel unappreciated and as a result, the levels of employee engagement in your business can suffer.

Managing director at Love Energy Savings, Phil Foster, said that a good atmosphere is key. “Strong relationships are essential for every business, whether they are between employees themselves or employees and their manager.

“This can be difficult to achieve if some staff are only working for a business for a couple of months, but it can result in a substandard level of service. All it requires is a little bit of effort on the part of long-term employees and the managers. After all, your overall goal is the same – to deliver an exceptional service to customers, so you should all be pulling in the same direction.”

Pro – You save time and money

When you advertise for seasonal employees, all information such as required hours, days and salary will be determined before they start their first shift. Issues of salary increases down the road, promotions and benefits aren’t something you necessarily have to concern yourself with, unless you decide to hire them on a more permanent basis.

You may also experience a rather fast turnaround from the time it takes between advertising a position and then hiring people. During busy seasons such as summer holidays and over Christmas, students and young people who are dedicated, enthusiastic and accepting of temporary work will be applying left, right and centre.

They’ll likely be available to interview quickly and, if they get the job, will often be able to start at short notice. It’s a win-win for both parties involved. This is opposed to the time it takes to interview more permanent candidates, who may need to undergo second or third interviews or complete tasks, and then undertake longer training programmes.

Con – You get less value for money

While hiring on seasonality does indeed have its monetary benefits, these only tend to pan out in the short-term. In the long-term, relying on hiring more staff when things get busier can actually end up being a bigger drain on your resources.

Even though these employees may only be joining you for a short amount of time, you still have to go through the time and effort of training them and getting them ready to be customer-facing. So regardless of what skills they bring to the table, you still have training obligations to all seasonal staff.

According to Oxford Economics, it can cost more than £30,000 to replace just one member of staff. While this may be relating to permanent employees who decide to move elsewhere, it goes some way to show the incredible value or making the effort to train and retain staff for the long-term.

For many sectors that experience sudden bursts of activity at different times throughout the year, the prospect of hiring seasonal workers will be unavoidable, but there are certainly pros and cons to consider. All it takes is some careful planning and preparation and you can have loyal and happy temporary staff working seamlessly alongside your full-timers. Happy hiring!

Phil Foster is managing director at Love Energy Savings 

Meet the luxury hand-made biscuit brand transforming the UK market for premium gifts

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